Concern over COVID infecting animals, making vaccines less effective

As the vaccine rollout continues, researchers are looking to target COVID-19 from another angle-- animals.

Since the pandemic began last year, there have been several reports of animals, from tigers to household pets, contracting the virus. The fact that it can infect other species is of great concern to South Dakota congressman Dusty Johnson.

The House Ag Committee member says that those cases could further endanger human lives and make current vaccines less effective.

According to Rep. Johnson, “The good news is, there are at least two American companies that are working on coronavirus vaccines for mink. Now, those animals, the reason I bring up mink, is that they have, in large numbers, grown sick and died.”

The Ag Committee recently held a markup session for its portion of the latest virus relief bill. During that session, Johnson proposed, then withdrew, an amendment to boost dollars for animal surveillance and vaccine research.

Despite removing the proposal, the plan earned commitments from panel leaders to work with him on the issue. COVID-19 is similar to a virus that has been found in horseshoe bats in China, but its true origin and how it first infected people is still unknown.